Urban Future 2024: Rotterdam Welcomes CityChangers From June 5 to 7

Urban Future, Europe’s most inspiring event for changemakers creating more sustainable cities, is coming to Rotterdam. From June 5 to 7, around 2,500 participants from all over the world will attend the conference at Rotterdam Ahoy to discuss their ideas on how to make better cities.

The event brings together mayors, architects, mobility experts, urban planners, scientists, sustainability managers, representatives of start-ups, environmentalists, innovation experts, and others.

With a lineup of around 200 speakers, 60 sessions, 35 field trips, and 20 side events, Urban Future 2024 is positioned to deliver a detailed exploration of green, social, and digital elements within urban landscapes.

CityChangers Rotterdam © UFGC | Sophia van den Hoek 42
Photo credit: CityChangers Rotterdam © UFGC | Sophia van den Hoek 42

Five Key Topics

The conference is structured around five themes: climate adaptation, building sustainable cities, social aspects of transformation, leadership, and the CityChanger skills.

  • Climate Adaptation – Cities must transform, and this topic focuses on the essential steps: execution, avoiding pitfalls, building necessary teams and skills, prioritizing actions, and successful collaboration with citizens.
  • Building Sustainable Cities – To revolutionize urban development, we must embrace significant changes. This involves reusing building materials, closing loops in construction, and efficiently repurposing city spaces.
  • Social Aspects of Transformation – To understand how social and green can go together, we’ll learn how to rally enough people behind green and how to talk to those who won’t.
  • Personal Growth – Focusing on the personal experience of those who drive change, how to make change happen, and how not to. All to help build resilience and grow as leaders.
  • CityChanger Skills – Whether you’re just getting started, gaining influence, or scaling for impact, skills for CityChangers provide you with essential know-how for taking your next step.

Rotterdam – an Icon in Adaptability & Innovation

Photo credit: Stijn Hanegraaf/Unsplash
Photo credit: Stijn Hanegraaf/Unsplash

Rotterdam is located in a delta region prone to water-related risks and was reconstructed following the aftermath of World War II. Therefore, the city has become known for adapting to challenging and constantly changing circumstances.

Rotterdam is also famous for its resilience and forward-looking mindset. Additionally, Rotterdam has nurtured a cooperative bond with its inhabitants and continues to embrace creative concepts. These are just a few reasons to look to Rotterdam for significant, local stories and lessons.

Day three will cover field trips into the city, where Rotterdam awaits discovery. In small groups, attendees are invited to see, feel, and experience the city first-hand with expert guides.

“Every year we tailor the themes to the host city, but our overarching theme always remains: how do you bring about change? Rotterdam is a perfect fit for us. The city is strongly committed to sustainability, its distinctive architecture and rich history of innovation and change. Urban Future is ultimately about the adaptability of cities and their residents, emphasizing the importance of soft skills in fostering meaningful change.”

Gerald Babel-Sutter, CEO and co-founder of Urban Future

Key Speakers and Guests

International CityChangers from each track will talk about the highs and lows of making projects like the Barcelona Superblocks or the greening of the Champs Elysée happen. Specialists from such fields as urban planning, architecture, mobility, energy, real estate, and construction will meet without barriers, regardless of organizational form or hierarchy.

So far, mayors and city officials from 60 cities—among them Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bratislava, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Helsingborg, Leicester, Lisboa, Napoli, Paris, Vienna and Warsaw—have signed up to join Urban Future 2024.

“The uniting element in between all these movers and shakers of the urban world, is the passion that they bring to the table when improving urban living,”

Gerald Babel-Sutter, CEO and co-founder of Urban Future

The List of Key Speakers:

  • Ahmed Aboutaleb – Mayor of Rotterdam
  • Christophe Najdovski – Deputy Mayor of Paris, Revegetation, Green Spaces, Biodiversity and Animal Condition. President Parisian Urban Planning
  • Derk Loorbach – Director at DRIFT, Rotterdam
  • Eleanor Sharpe – Head of the Department of Planning and Development, City of Philadelphia
  • Elena Doms – Born in the Arctic & on a mission to protect it, Head of +EARTH+, cleaning Soils & CO2 with Nature, Sustainability Speaker & Artist
  • Janet Sanz – Former Deputy Mayor for urbanism, ecology, and mobility and now Vice President of Climate Action and Strategic Planning, Barcelona
  • Lykke Leonardsen – Head of the program for Resilient and Sustainable City Solutions at the City of Copenhagen
  • Rutger Bregman – Author of two New York Times Bestsellers “Utopia for Realists” and “Humankind”, The Netherlands
  • Safaa Chafari – Gender consultant at Urban Inclusion, working towards more inclusive, fairer, safer and more prosperous cities
  • Susan Leadbetter – Principal Consultant or “The Gender Equality Maker” at WSP, London
  • Vojtech Vosicky – LinkedIn Top Green Voice, Circular Economist, helps organizations go circular
  • Xavier Matilla Ayala – Former Chief Architect of Barcelona, Project Leader Superblocks

“Urban transformation is never, ever easy. At Urban Future you will hear not only the ‘sunny side up’ stories, but also the real, unfiltered side of change-making. Anyone who is passionate about their city, simply must be at #UF24 in Rotterdam this year.”

– Gerald Babel-Sutter, CEO and co-founder of Urban Future

The speakers, sessions, field trips, and side events will fill the conference week with content, all with one goal: to bring urban change.